Digital Transformation Changes Everything

Digital transformation has hit every aspect of business, not only in how we run our companies but also in the products and services we sell. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the pace of change, and we’re all seeing those who aren’t transforming being left behind.

Much of this change requires retooling teams, shifting company cultures, and other tectonic shifts. CPOs have more responsibility, more budget, and are now responsible for setting the strategic path of the future for the company.

Original Research: CPO Rising Resources

Products That Count CPO Renée Niemi surveyed over 300 Chief Product Officers on the growing role of the CPO and the top challenges they are facing. The “CPO Rising” series, to be delivered across 2022, will include blogs, eBooks, podcasts, and original research to help CPOs transform not only their organizations, but also their careers.

The Rise of the Chief Product Officer: Study of the Most Important Role in Business
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The State of the Chief Product Officer in 2022 (eBook)
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Chief Product Officers align the culture

Challenge #1 – Shifting Culture

Driving a fundamental change to not only the role of product but with a very long tail into the business requires a large cultural shift. CPOs are leading this shift, which affects everything: products, services, and business models.

Actions you can take to perform cultural shifts:

  • Maintain open lines of communication about the Northstar vision; your team needs to know where it is headed to give 100%.
  • Ask yourself what the culture shift can do for your team.
  • Get involved in a product community to deepen your knowledge and credibility to lead the culture change.
Shifting the Culture
Chief Product Officers align the culture
Chief Product Officer: the talent challenge

Challenge #2 – Talent

Talent is by far the #1 issue facing CPOs. This is especially challenging during “The Great Resignation,” where there is a lot of churn, even at the CPO level. CPOs need to lead across talent recruiting, retention, and personal development.

Actions you can take to address the Talent challenge:

  • Prioritize talent by spending a set number of hours each week on it, and properly setting up your talent funnel.
  • Hire for traits and then making a serious investment in training the necessary skills.
  • Look for Product generalists, rather than Product specialists (e.g., Growth, customer service).
Chief Product Officer: the talent challenge

Challenge #3 – Growth

The CPO is one of the core strategic executives responsible for business growth. This centers around creating a more product-centric culture fueled by digitization. CPOs are now thinking about speed, their decision-making abilities and opportunities, and how they influence the C-suite.

Coming soon: Actions you can take to drive business growth in your company.

Structuring the Organization

Challenge #4 – Structuring the Organization

Scaling the organization in a high-growth environment is all about: hiring the right talent quickly; putting in the right process at the right time; how and when to add management layers. CPOs need to build scale into products while driving a product-led culture.

Coming soon: Actions you can take to put the right product-led structure in place.

Structuring the Organization
Chief Product Officer solutions metrics

Challenge #5 – How Do You Measure Success

The metrics that the product team is accountable for also are changing. There is more accountability for business metrics such as growth, revenue, and profits. The CPO’s role for most companies is now a true business role, measured by both product performance and business success.

Remember, what gets measured gets managed. Here are actions you can take to measure business & product success.

  • Determine which measurements will have the biggest impact on the success of the business. In product management generally the top three metrics are retention, engagement, and conversion.
  • Measure NPS improvement – would your customers recommend your product or service?
  • Make your KPIs actionable. Most KPIs can be moved by the Product team and are envisioned as a measurement that product can directly affect.
Measuring Success
Chief Product Officer solutions metrics
Chief Product Officer Solutions: Prioritization

Challenge #6 – Prioritization

Setting priorities and getting the right level of input during the road-mapping process is essential. The CPO must ensure transparency in the decision-making while navigating competing and conflicting stakeholders’ priorities.

Here are actions you can take to help with prioritization.

  • Begin with the long view and work backwards to generate priorities.
  • Choose a model that works for your org.
  • Hire people who can ruthlessly prioritize daily tasks in line with your larger prioritization plan.
  • Be flexible with your priorities; regularly look at the data and adjust as necessary.
  • Changing course will happen; communicate that clearly across the impacted teams.


Chief Product Officer Solutions: Prioritization
Remote Work

Challenge #7 – Remote Work, Remote Connections?

As the economy starts to open up post-pandemic, and businesses begin to bring employees back in the office, the CPO is facing challenges for those who might have moved for cost or family considerations, and how to manage policies around remote working. The CPO’s ability to inspire and influence can be a challenge.

Coming soon: Actions you can take to manage policies around remote working.

Remote Work
Isolation and Burnout

Challenge #8 – Isolation and Burnout

By moving to the cloud, we have never been more connected — yet we feel quite alone most of the time. CPOs are trying to learn what works best for them to drive the culture shift without losing sight or losing themselves.

Coming soon: Actions you can take to address burnout and isolation.

Isolation and Burnout
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